Dong-won Choi

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Dong-won Choi (최동원)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Dong-won Choi was one of the top hurlers in the first decade of the Korea Baseball Organization.

Choi was on the South Korean team that won the 1977 Intercontinental Cup. He pitched in 7 of South Korea's 10 games in the 1978 Amateur World Series, going 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA and a save. He fanned 45 and allowed only 17 hits in 33 1/3 IP. He tied for the most wins (even with Shigekazu Mori) and saves in the Series and led in strikeouts (5 ahead of runner-up Mori). He came within 1 hit (a homer) of throwing a perfect game against Nicaragua. He helped South Korea win a Bronze Medal. In the 1980 Amateur World Series, he helped Korea win their first Silver Medal in the history of the event, which he led with 43 strikeouts.

Choi won Silver in the 1981 World Games, losing the finale to Ed Vosberg and Team USA. He led the 1981 Intercontinental Cup with 27 1/3 innings and a 2-0 record. Once again he came within 1 hit (a ninth inning single) of throwing a perfect game, this time against Canada. He was named to the All-Star team, while Korea just missed a Bronze.

Choi was offered a deal from the Toronto Blue Jays but did not sign with them. He pitched in the 1982 Amateur World Series, and helped them win a Gold Medal, the only time through 2008 that they have done so in the Series or its successor, the Baseball World Cup.

Choi began his professional career with the 1983 Lotte Giants, going 9-16 with 4 saves and a 2.89 ERA. In 1984, he had a career year, going 27-13 with 6 saves and a 2.40 ERA. He allowed 229 hits and fanned 223 in 284 2/3 IP. He led the league in wins and strikeouts. He was three wins shy of Hiroaki Fukushi's KBO record and was named the Korea Baseball Organization MVP. He set the league strikeout record, which stood 37 years until Ariel Miranda broke it. He was amazing in the 1984 Korean Series, tossing the first Korean Series shutout in game one to beat Si-jin Kim and the Samsung Lions. In game 3, he came back with 12 strikeouts, then a Series record. He was on the hill in game 5, losing a 3-2 duel to Hisao Niura. A day later, he was back to beat Si-jin Kim and keep Lotte's hopes alive. After one day rest, he returned in game 7 to win his 4th game of the Series, beating Niura to almost single-handedly give Lotte their first pennant. He failed to win the Korean Series MVP, which went to game 7 home run star Doo-yeol Yoo.

In 1985, Choi went 20-9 with eight saves and a 1.92 ERA, giving up only 170 hits in 225 innings. He was .22 behind Dong-yeol Sun for the ERA lead. During 1986, Dong-won had a 19-14, 1.55 record with two saves, giving up 204 hits and fanning 208 in 267 innings. Sun easily beat him out for the ERA crown as he was under 1 that year.

Choi went 14-12 with two saves and a 2.81 ERA in 1987. He led the league with 163 strikeouts. In 1988, he went 7-3 with 3 saves and a 2.05 ERA. Choi moved to the Samsung Lions in 1989 and was 1-2 with a 2.10 ERA. He wrapped up in 1990, going 6-5 with a save and a 5.28 ERA.

Choi once fanned 16 in a game; this was tied with Dae-jin Lee and Dong-yol Sun for the record in a nine-inning game until Hyun-jin Ryu K'd 17 in 2010.

Through 2005, Choi ranked among the all-time KBO leaders in complete games (80), innings (1,414 2/3, 19th), losses (74, tied for 23rd), saves (26, tied for 40th), shutouts (8, tied for 10th), strikeouts (1,019, 18th), wins (103, 15th) and ERA (2.46, 2nd to Sun, but 1.26 behind that legendary hurler).

Choi returned to baseball in 2005 as pitching coach for the Hanwha Eagles; he had previously worked as a baseball commentator on TV. He then managed Hanwha's minor league team from 2006-2008.